Laura Chick Audits LA's Anti-Gang Efforts
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Laura Chick Audits LA's Anti-Gang Efforts
Calls for Refocussing, Reorganizing, Reinventing






Los Angeles -- Calling it, “A time for action…now,” City Controller Laura Chick released her wide ranging and highly anticipated Blueprint on ending gang violence.

“During the last two decades, there have been countless studies, reports, consultants, City Council ad-hoc committees, new programs and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars spent to stem the gang crisis. And what do we have to show for it? The recent in-depth Advancement Project study painted a grim picture, which my report echoes, of a disjointed maze of services that don't reach the intended “at risk” youth population,” said City Controller Chick.

“Now what? It is important to note what my report does not say. There is no call for immediate new dollars, but there is a plan spelled out on how to spend the money more wisely and efficiently. New programs are not advocated, but rather the redesign, refocus and merging of existing programs is proscribed,” said Chick.

“The report does not recommend the creation of a new department with additional layers of bureaucracy, but directs the creation of the Anti-Gang Office which will operate directly under the Mayor. This will be a centralized, empowered entity that has the oversight and responsibility of our many anti-gang efforts. To ensure public transparency, the City Controller's Office will issue status reports beginning six months from today, along with conducting periodic fiscal and performance audits,” said Chick.

"Controller Laura Chick's blueprint underscores the importance of the multi-faceted and coordinated approach we are employing around the State, with a focus on intervention, suppression and prevention in reducing gang activity and violence. I applaud her commitment, joined by Mayor Villaraigosa and other city officials, to enact a comprehensive, Citywide anti-gang strategy," said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“I fully embrace the Controller's report and am committed to working with our partners on the City Council to implement the kind of coordination and accountability necessary for success,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

"This plan gives us the accountability, transparency and focus that we have been waiting for. We now have a road map for how we can finally end gang violence in Los Angeles ," said Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

"As Controller Chick, Connie Rice and many others have pointed out, our gang prevention and intervention system is broken. We need more accountability, more transparency and more effectiveness -- to ensure we are spending the public's money wisely; but even more importantly, to save the lives of the at-risk youth in our neighborhoods,” said City Attorney Rock Delgadillo.

"I commend Controller Chick in her effort to help the City and County with their approach to solving the gang problem. This is a good report, and it has my full support," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

"The Controller's analysis is a welcome next step for how the City should proceed to end the youth gang homicide epidemic, which still exists in the City's hot zones despite record reductions in crime. The message from this report is that the City has to consolidate its efforts and document the results of reducing gang membership and gang violence, and increasing child safety in the hot zones. The City now has two reports indicating what needs to be done to get substantial reductions in gang violence and to increase the impact of the Mayor's office, the City Council's Ad Hoc Committee, and other City entities' current efforts to reverse this epidemic." -Connie Rice, Co-Director of the Advancement Project.

"The LA Controller's call for a comprehensive and collaborative anti-gang strategy, with clear accountability, will allow the City of Los Angeles to take a quantum-leap in its approach to reducing gang violence," said Paul Seave, California 's State Director of Gang and Youth Violence Policy.

Blueprint for a Comprehensive Citywide Anti-Gang Strategy




Concerns over gangs and their societal impact are felt throughout the world. The havoc they wreak is a true human tragedy. These misguided youths attack the basic fabric of a city and its communities. Innocent lives are lost—both the victims of gang violence and the wasted futures of the gang members themselves—individuals and families are forever scarred and the vibrancy of a community is drained by the presence of gangs. The economic toll on the City and its residents is also immeasurable due to the loss of community earning power and impeded access to the untapped potential of the gang infested area’s people and their neighborhood.

After reviewing the Advancement Project’s comprehensive assessment of the gang problems plaguing Los Angeles in early 2007, the Mayor and City Council requested that the City Controller conduct an independent evaluation of the City’s social service and gang prevention delivery systems.

The study’s main objectives are to identify major city and other entity initiatives, determine how well they are integrated, review the existing practices and processes in place to deliver anti-gang programs, compare with best practices, and recommend ways to improve the service delivery system in light of the emerging citywide funding reductions for education, training and family supportive services that were reviewed. This report outlines a blueprint for a comprehensive citywide anti-gang strategy. The key elements of this blueprint are to:

• Create a single office to coordinate youth and family services

• Develop regional partnerships with LAUSD, LA County, and other local governments

• Conduct community-based and department-wide needs assessments

• Redirect funds to the gang reduction strategy

• Reinvent youth and family services

• Establish rigorous performance measures and conduct evaluations of both city and contracted programs

Similar to the Advancement Project report, we urge the City to establish a new organizational structure to develop and implement citywide gang reduction and youth development programs, including participating in a regional partnership to address the gang challenges the City faces. This new office must house key youth development programs throughout the City, and will have the authority and be accountable for developing and implementing an effective and efficient anti-gang strategy. The City must take an approach that incorporates more coordination between agencies, and must be based on demonstrated community-level needs. Based on this, the City should reinvent and streamline existing youth development and anti-gang programs that are currently provided by numerous city departments and refocus funding priorities.

The key goal of this report is to finally deliver an effective City-wide anti-gang strategy in an expedient, accountable, and transparent manner. For this reason, we recommend that the Mayor’s office take the lead in this effort. Only the Mayor has the authority and clout to bring all City departments together and provide regional leadership.

This new strategy and reorganization will not require additional funding, but will require redirecting existing funds to more targeted programs, eliminating duplication and streamlining programs, and implementing performance-based contracting and monitoring practices. A number of these important steps require significant changes in the way the City has historically approached its anti-gang efforts. Changing some of these approaches will require the City’s political leaders to support initiatives that favor a citywide solution to the gang problem, at times to the detriment of more parochial departmental or community interests. In the end, the City can accomplish more with the resources it has if it strategically and organizationally focuses these resources.

Better coordination and collaboration on anti-gang programs is needed desperately both within City departments and between the City and its regional counterparts. Since it is widely known that gangs do not respect artificially set municipal or governmental boundaries, the City of Los Angeles’ gang problem is clearly a regional problem shared with Los Angeles County, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and numerous other cities and school districts in the area. As such, the best solutions to the problem would be through regional partnerships and not limited to those undertaken solely by City government within its city limits. In keeping with this reality, the blueprint we suggest for the City includes fostering and developing a regionalized approach to the gang problem with LA County, LAUSD and others. And while we are encouraging such regional partnerships, we also emphasize approaches the City should take to address the problems within its own City-sponsored and funded anti-gang programs and activities. We advocate that both the regional and citywide initiatives be put in motion simultaneously and immediately.

Moreover, since each of the City’s communities affected by gangs is unique and different, the societal, infrastructure and individual needs of each area will vary. Only through a comprehensive, community-level and citywide department-level needs assessment will the City be able to marshal the appropriate mix of youth development and anti-gang services to address the underlying causes of each community’s gang problem. Budgetary and programmatic decisions must be based on these assessments.

On the following page, our “Healthy Community Pyramid” in Figure 1, melds the basic needs of the City’s communities and its residents at its base, with increasingly focused targeted prevention, intervention, suppression, and reentry programs in its upper levels. In concept, communities’ basic needs make up the foundation of the pyramid addressing the root cause of gang involvement, while each group of services provided up the pyramid focuses on youths with unique individual needs. By definition, the community’s needs and those addressed by general prevention are not focused only on gang members, affiliates or those who have a high risk of becoming gang members.


Healthy Community Pyramid
(Anti-Gang Stategy)


Gang Members from jail & willing to leave gang lifestyle.


Job Placement
Tattoo Removal

Active Gang Members & Affiliates


Community Policing
Courts Probation
Service Referrals


Crisis Intervention
Counseling to Change Lifestyle
Peaces Initiatives
Job Placement

At-Risk Youth & Communities


Diversion Efforts & Case Managment
Special Education Services
Focused Social Services
Safe Havens & Passages
Alternate Options

General Youth and Family Population


After School Programs
Education Services
Recreation& Sports
Safe Schools
Art & Music
Job Training & Summer Employment


Schools & Library
Mental Health
Public Safety

Figure 1. “Healthy Community Pyramid”

The anti-gang strategy portion of the pyramid includes targeted prevention, intervention, suppression, and reentry programs for at-risk youths and communities generally experiencing a gang problem or transitioning to one. The interventions become narrower and more focused on gang members as one moves up the pyramid. However, it is essential that efforts not be limited to one level of the pyramid and that ongoing attention is paid to each level. A brief description of the various program types follows (refer to Appendix A for complete definitions):

  Community Infrastructure—Provide basic services necessary for a community including workforce development, recreation, public safety, housing, economic development, and family services.

  General Prevention—Address all members of a community and are intended to build healthy communities in which gangs are unable to flourish. Programs include education, recreation, arts, and job training.

  Targeted Prevention—Offer selective prevention and diversion strategies and are designed to impact high-risk communities and/or individual high-risk children and youth based on risk factors. The goal of targeted prevention is to preclude children and youth in at-risk communities from joining a gang or participating in gang activity.

  Intervention—Intervene during gang-related conflicts (community) as well as impact individual gang involved youth typically through the use of community and faith-based street outreach workers and school-based intervention teams.

  Suppression—Target serious and chronic offenders and involve the use of the criminal justice system to officially sanction behavior through arrest, prosecution, and incarceration.

  Reentry—Focus on individuals who have decided to leave the gang lifestyle as a result of diversion, intervention, and/or suppression efforts and are preparing to reintegrate into the community.

This blueprint calls for the City to reposition its departments and redirect its funding priorities to provide the range of services covering the entire pyramid. Most notable will be transitioning the youth and family development efforts out of the Community Development Department (CDD) into a newly established Anti-gang Office that is given a range of responsibilities for targeted prevention, intervention and reentry, including community needs assessments for such services. This new Anti-gang Office would also negotiate new contracts with community-based organizations (CBOs) and religious-based organizations (RBOs), provide accountability and outcome measures, evaluate and oversee activities to measure results, coordinate multi-agency collaboration, conduct research on best and leading anti-gang practices, and provide training to agencies regarding how they can meet the new contract requirements and to City departments on anti-gang strategies.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) will continue its primary role of suppressing gang activity, and City departments such as the Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP), Housing (LAHD), CDD job and economic development, and community redevelopment will need to better coordinate their efforts in building a stronger community infrastructure in gang challenged areas. Also, to overcome past coordination and collaboration difficulties, City leaders will need to hold the various general managers to account for effectively bringing the City’s varied resources to bear against the gang problem. Measurable outcomes and program evaluation will be critical part of this reorganization. This will provide transparency and accountability to the public and City leadership.

The key elements we recommend for the City’s gang reduction strategy are as follows:

I. Create a new organizational structure, “Anti-gang Office” within the Mayor’s Office to facilitate the expeditious consolidation, development, implementation, and coordination of citywide youth development and gang reduction programs. Through Executive Directive and periodic reporting to the City Council, mandate interdepartmental collaboration and accountability.

  Transition all of the City’s key youth development and gang reduction programs to the new Anti-gang Office, including those currently housed in CDD’s Human Services and Neighborhood Development Group, and other City departments and commissions. Certain programs—as they pertain to the primary missions of other departments—should remain with the departments they are currently housed.

  Establish a Gang Reduction Unit within the new Anti-gang Office to coordinate, track, and leverage programming resources that remain in other City departments, such as the RAP, LAPD, LAHD, the City’s proprietary departments, among others.

  Enhance linkages between law enforcement and service providers through muchimproved referral networks and joint programming.

II. Continue to develop and build on existing regional partnerships with LAUSD, LA County and other local governments to improve current environment of conflict and non-cooperation.

  Build and expand upon recent County efforts to develop partnerships between the new office, program practitioners, executives, and elected officials among the City and its regional partners such as LA County and LAUSD to create an environment of collaboration and coordination on anti-gang efforts.

  Encourage regional cooperation and coordination to reduce unmet needs and duplication of services.

III. Conduct community-based and department-level citywide needs assessments.

  Identify needs of the communities each department serves and cooperatively analyze what programs and services are lacking and what programs and services should be provided to fill any gaps.

  Require needs assessments performed at each City department at least once every five years, with periodic annual reviews to reassess needs.

  Require funding decisions be made in consideration of both community-wide and department-wide needs assessments.

IV. Increase funding for the gang reduction strategy by redirecting a substantial portion of the $19 million allocated to programs that currently do not have well-defined strategic objectives or outcomes—specifically the Neighborhood Action (NAP), “Strategically Targeted”, and Neighborhood Development (NDP) programs—to expand funding to targeted youth development and gang reduction programs.

  Cease across-the-board funding allocations and reductions by ensure funding decisions are based on community needs and demonstrated performance of service providers.

  Identify, based community- and citywide-level needs assessments, the best method of filling identified gaps, and reissue Requests for Proposals (RFP) within six months to identify the best service providers to deliver those services.

  Establish contract provisions and monitoring practices that create incentives for optimal performance and accountability for service delivery.

V. Reinvent youth and family services in the new Anti-gang Office.

  Create streamlined youth and family development programs, and expand antigang programs that do a better job of targeting those most at risk of gang involvement.

  Expand intervention and reentry programming to ease the transition of those in gangs to society.

  Increase oversight of the implementation of this new strategy, given the challenges of implementing this model in other jurisdictions, by requesting the City Controller to conduct follow-up audits of the progress of the new office and of the status of each of the recommendations contained in this blueprint. These audits should occur every six months after the beginning of implementation and throughout the first two years of implementation.

VI. Conduct rigorous performance evaluations of both City and contracted programs.

  Develop an evaluation model as part of the redesign of youth development and gang reduction programs. This model must address both short-term reduction in risk factors and increases in protective factors, and long-term impacts on the program participants themselves.

  Evaluate the unique impacts of targeted prevention, diversion, intervention, reentry, and suppression efforts as distinct components to an overall strategy.

  Create a research and evaluation unit within the new Anti-gang Office that relies on both City personnel and partnerships with the surrounding research community, and conduct both process-oriented and outcome-oriented evaluations on a long-term basis.

We address each component of this blueprint in the following sections of the report. To achieve the study objectives, we conducted hundreds of interviews with the key City, County, and LAUSD officials; additionally, we conducted field visits to many of the service providers’ sites, including schools, parks, recreational centers, and communitybased organizations. Moreover, as part of this project, we contracted with two leading experts on gangs studies to participate and assist in our review—Jorja Leap, PhD, from University of California, Los Angeles, and Scott Decker, PhD, School of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Arizona State University. Their extensive research on gang-related issues in Los Angeles and throughout the nation—such as the organization, activities and effectiveness of prevention and intervention responses—has been invaluable throughout our study. We have incorporated their work and comments throughout our report, including our recommendations. Numerous other academic, social service, community and justice experts, and involved stakeholders also provided valuable insights and issues as we conducted the study.

Click here for the full report: Anti-Gang Stategy Report (163 page pdf file)

Controller Chick web site: